DEPTH CAMERAS ON UAVs: A FIRST APPROACH
Keywords: Depth cameras, 3D reconstruction, Structure from Motion, SLAM, depth, UAV
Abstract. Accurate depth information retrieval of a scene is a field under investigation in the research areas of photogrammetry, computer vision and robotics. Various technologies, active, as well as passive, are used to serve this purpose such as laser scanning, photogrammetry and depth sensors, with the latter being a promising innovative approach for fast and accurate 3D object reconstruction using a broad variety of measuring principles including stereo vision, infrared light or laser beams. In this study we investigate the use of the newly designed Stereolab's ZED depth camera based on passive stereo depth calculation, mounted on an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle with an ad-hoc setup, specially designed for outdoor scene applications. Towards this direction, the results of its depth calculations and scene reconstruction generated by Simultaneous Localization and Mapping (SLAM) algorithms are compared and evaluated based on qualitative and quantitative criteria with respect to the ones derived by a typical Structure from Motion (SfM) and Multiple View Stereo (MVS) pipeline for a challenging cultural heritage application.